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A plea on behalf of our children

News Release: 2nd October 2008


A plea on behalf of our children

“The value of life” is the final lecture in the Liggins Institute’s 2008 Seasons of Life Series. In it, Director Professor Peter Gluckman will make a passionate plea for governments and health agencies around the world to take better care of women and children.

While global healthcare dollars are increasingly directed towards managing the chronic conditions of later life – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementias – Gluckman contends that officials are ignoring the root of the problems and costs are spiralling out of control. He claims the costs extend beyond healthcare budgets; they appear in lost productivity, special education needs and crime statistics.

Gluckman’s recent biomedical research has shown that a baby takes signals from its pre-birth environment to set a course of development to fit it for what it predicts its postnatal environment will be. “Increasingly, today, this prediction is wrong and the infant is mismatched with the world it is born into and society must, literally, pay the price,” he says.

Professor Gluckman’s consulting work for international aid agencies has convinced him that a global time-bomb is ticking. He knows that disaster could be averted by putting greater emphasis, world-wide, on educating and empowering young women and giving them better access to (the right) food and healthcare.

His statistics show that the problems are not confined to developing countries: over-weight mothers also put their babies at risk and infant health is strongly linked to mother’s educational achievement. But it seems policy makers, driven by political imperatives, fail to see the wisdom of investing in outcomes that may not be fully realised for two to three generations.

Gluckman has formed an international consortium of eminent medical scientists and economists who, together, are gathering data and calculating the financial benefits countries would gain from improvements in nutrition, education and healthcare focused on young women and children.

“A global opportunity is being lost by not speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, our children.” he warns.

What: “The value of life” - free public lecture
When: Tuesday 7th October at 6pm
Where: Liggins Institute, 2-6 Park Avenue, Grafton
Bookings: Telephone 09 303 5972; email friends[at]liggins.auckland.ac.nz


ENDS

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